Operation Oryx: Turn 4

In turn number čtyři a panting Major Trajanov plants a metaphorical Trevar (the Zendoran flag) on top of Strupnic’s lofty dovecot, two friendly units come under fire, and, peering through his binoculars, Branko Somlac mutters, with distinct relish, “Something wicked this way comes!”.

(Operation Oryx is an open-to-all game of Combat Mission: Cold War set in 1981. The commenter-controlled Zendoran forces are attempting to ambush a column of Podrabian vehicles bound for Zečin, the Zendoran capital. Each turn covers one minute of WeGo action. For a scenario outline and summaries of earlier turns, click here).

The only development of note in the first half of the turn is the eastward movement of a red ‘sound contact’ icon near New Farm. If Viktor’s map (see turn 2) is to be trusted, the restless vehicle is a truck. It drives as far as the Vostok Memorial (more on which in a future turn report) in the SW corner of box 52 before stopping, possibly contemplating its next move.

At T+38 the sniper and his assistant arrive on the dovecot roof and almost immediately spot a stationary BMP, 500m to the north-east.

A second or two later, they are momentarily distracted by the crackle of small-arms fire. Our advancing LMG team is taking fire from one of the small buildings in the village centre.

The machinegunners immediately go to ground and reply. Ricocheting M60 rounds pinball crazily from the facade of the targeted structure.

Although neither of the two occupants (AK-armed BMP crewmen?) are hit, they do seem cowed.

The turn’s other firefight is briefer and less equatable. It appears not everyone in the hotel is quite as hung-over as Lieutenant Guskov. Reaching a clearing in the woods south of the village centre, Recon Team C draw fire from the direction of The Traveller’s Rest. They immediately pick up the pace and the firing ceases.

It’s at T+55 that Branko quotes the Weird Sister. A few seconds before everything grinds to a halt for another round of order issuing, the dovecot conquerors spot the New Farm BMP bee-lining towards the highway embankment.

Elsewhere this turn…

Viktor’s tankers boarded Trajanov’s taxi, and Trajanov’s taxi driver didn’t spare the horses.

Recon team B dashed east seemingly unobserved. From their new position in the treeline, they could, if they wished to, harass the foes in 75,8,2. Recon team A have LoF to the same target.

The Dragon team pushed closer to the embankment. Nearby, the light mortar team are seconds away from deploying their tube.

46 Comments

  1. Turn 5 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following units (A maximum of one unit per commenter. Embarked infantry and their taxis count as single units until separated.) Turn execution: probably early Monday morning.

    (See screenshot for exact unit locations)
    ****anyone****
    Light mortar team [BOX 84, weapon undeployed]
    MG team [BOX 85, prone]
    Dragon team [BOX 72]
    Recon team A (3 men, 2 x LAW) [BOX 74]
    Recon team B (3 men, 2 X LAW) [BOX 75]
    Otto and Branko (sniper team) [BOX 112, top of dovecot]
    TOW Mutt (8 x ATGM) [BOX 111]

    ****subscribers only****
    BRDM-2 [BOX 99]
    M113 [BOX 74]
    Truck [BOX 96]
    Trajanov [BOX 112, top of dovecot]
    Trajanov’s Mutt [BOX 97, heading NW with Viktor’s T-72 crew aboard]

    Please start all order comments with ‘ORDER’ and any later revision comments with ‘REVISED ORDER’. This will help me distinguish firm instructions from suggestions and advice.

    • ORDER:

      The DRAGON TEAM holds fire and hides for 30 seconds then targets armour in a wide arc to the north-east to east. Fire at will.
      The intention is to give the LAW team a chance to get that approaching BMP but not leaving them do deal with it completely on their own.

    • ORDER: M113 reverse fast to the road, then turn round the copse to 74,5,2. Suppression fire on as much of the hotel as it can see (assuming this is an order that can be given.)

      I don’t fancy crossing the open ground to the village – too close for comfort, and the BMP might catch it halfway regardless. Hopefully it is safe enough there for long enough for recon alpha and the dragon to deal with our impending visitor.

    • ORDER:
      Trajanov’s Mutt and T-72 crew to continue towards roughly 83, 3x6y, making sure to stay behind the cover of the trees. Then halt where they’re in still cover from the NE.

      (I was going to order them to the end of the trees, but I just noticed that there’s only one break in the fence at 84 4x 7y so we’ll have to send them through there)
      Once we’ve dealt with the second BMP they can head north, but I suspect we’ll have to wait until next turn for that.

    • ORDER: Recon Team B to hold small arms fire, I’d prefer their first shot to be at a vehicle. Can we set up a “target armour” arc along the north/south road of the village (X10 in box 75)? I think they should be able to target from X10, Y3 to X10, Y7 minus the section behind the house at X8, Y4. I’m fine to stretch the arc out a bit to capture some of the road along box 87 Y10 as well, though I’m not sure if we have any line of sight there. Basically: stay put for 60 seconds and wait for a vehicle to drive down one of those roads where we have an angle.

    • I’m sending the TOW-Mutt to peek and cover the right flank in case the NE BMP gets bold.

      ORDER: TOW-Mutt to fast move to 100, X4, Y5 (or anywhere in that immediate vicinity that has good LoS to the highway), wait for 30 seconds, then reverse using the house at 100 as cover.

    • ORDER

      BRDM to swing east (under cover from the Mutt) and cross the field to get some cover in 102 X5 Y2. To shield itself from threats on the highway while providing fire support to the village.

    • Order:

      Recon Team A
      Target armour ark from 62, x1, y6 to 63, x10, y6. That should be a large enough ark to cover the BMP as he crests the highway. Fellow commanders, feel free to adjust the order if needed.

      • REVISED ORDER: Recon team A [BOX 74]

        1) HIDE first
        2) (will have to defer to Tim’s experience)
        If possible, Target Armour Arc as described by Pistol Pete. But it may be that CM only allows target arc where units have visual, in which case the right corner as far east along the highway’s central reservation as permitted. (My guesstimate 63, x3, y6)

        This should hopefully make them more ambush-y, so the BMP doesn’t spot them until too late.

      • One oddity about CM: ‘Target X arcs’ are purely restrictive, and offer no benefit to spotting or engagement times. They simply serve to limit what units are allowed to engage, and are best for hold-fire or focus-fire commands (e.g. only engage armour that you spot from THIS angle).

        The ‘face’ command should be sufficient if we want units to point a certain way.

  2. @Tim
    Are the wire fences (orange lines on the map) any sort of impediment to weapons/missile fire? Can the TOW MUTT shoot over them?

    I’ve just remembered that Recon A and B have LAWs, so having the TOW MUTT scoot west to fire past the left side of the building in 86 might be overkill.

  3. Gripping stuff! Looks like our Dragon team is about to claim another BMP scalp. What do we do about the M113? He could state there to suppress the BMP as it appears, and hope the Dragon team can shoot quickly. Or should he move to safety?

    • Does anyone with more experience than me know how effective the M113’s machine gun would be against the BMP’s armour? If it’s just going to scratch the surface it’s probably better to get out of dodge…

      • `Not very` would be my answer. Especially head-on. I´d prefer our M113 to stay out of the BMPs way and try to establish a LOS to the motostrelki who are occupying Traveller´s Rest. Somewhere around 74 X5 Y2 or in the lee of the building at 75 X2 Y2. The latter could be too close though. We must assume they have RPGs.

        • Are those the chaps that shot at our LMG team? If they’re already somewhat suppressed the M113 may be just the ticket to keep their heads down until someone can lend them a pinless grenade through the window.

          I do support getting the M113 out of sight from the BMP, as that feels a one-sided fight that wouldn’t work in our favour.

          I’d also suggest telling the Dragon team to duck down and hide rather than trying to shoot the BMP. Let the recon team surprise it with their LAW from cover, and save the bigger hitting weapon for the tanks we’re expecting to come through?

          • To be honest I have no clue who those guys in 75 X8 Y2 are. Not the mechanized infantry. They look like crewmen. Either the BMP we nabbed was unmanned or there is an empty PT-76 close by. (which is still unaccounted for) If it would be the latter we would have neutralized two AFVs, at least for the moment.

            The motostrelki seem to be in the hotel at 87 X9 Y9. Well, someone is and is taking potshots at recon team C. I am not sure if CM allows to split russian mech inf squads in fire teams, but IIRC soviet doctrine would discourage it. That´s why I suspect a whole 8 man squad in there and am so insistent we get some cover fire going.

      • I’m pretty sure the M113’s gun will just piss off the BMP.
        (The M113 usually has a .50 cal machine gun, and the BMP’s armour will shrug that off.)

  4. So, if my map reading skills are up to scratch – the BMP on the move is currently entering box 63 from 51. Given the LOS-breaking of the highway, do they know what they’re heading into?

    Cresting the highway would bring them close to Recon B, who are in the trees. Is there some wall between them and the highway that would give our guys a bit more cover from the BMP?

    The Dragon team’s missiles have a reload time of 30 seconds – I assume they’d be able to get a shot off as the BMP comes into view?

  5. Now that we have eyes on the last BMP to the north east…should we be a bit more audacious with our vehicles? I am considering two things.

    1) The NE BMP is going to get moving sooner or later. It is not unlikely it will go south first, cresting the highway. I think there is a chance to ambush it with a well-hidden Mutt-TOW. Somewhere close to 100 X4 Y5.
    2) Since our infantry teams entering the village are only 3 men each and could easily become combat-ineffective, I would love to get some heavy MG cover fire, but from a respectful distance. The M113 might do so from the west (see above), but maybe the BRDM could help from the east. I´d hesitate to let it follow its passengers through the dense terrain south of the hotel. It´s definately in RPG range and then there´s situational awareness. But it could swing east (under cover from the Mutt) and either target the hotel from 100 X10 Y6 or cross the field to get some cover in 102 X5 Y2. The former would be exposed to the highway, the latter would require a daring, but brief dash over open terrain.

    • re: 1) I don’t think the Mutt would be too well hidden at 100 4 5, but that is the sort of ‘on top of the bank’ spot I’d hoped it could shoot & scoot from so it may be worth popping it up there, seeing if it has line of sight and can send a missile whizzing over to the BMP then drop back behind the berm pronto.

      If we leave it up there I fear it becomes a target.

      For the BDRM I took your ‘swing East’ concept, looked at the map and thought “It could use those trees to shield itself from threats on the highway while providing fire support to the village”, re-read your comment and realised that’s exactly your suggestion with 102 5 2. Consider me in agreement!

      • I shall assume that people we haven’t met had an unfortunate encounter with people we haven’t spotted and either stopped for a barbecue or there’s been a shift in the balance of friendly/neutral/opposing forces beyond our ken.

        The AAR will be enlightening I’m sure 🙂

  6. Completely off-topic, but I feel like sharing what I just learned. There was a variant of the Mutt Jeep that actually fielded a Davy Crockett tactical nuke. `with a 100% instant casualty radius in excess of 160 metres`
    Evidently that was a thing.

  7. Our objective is ambushing the convoy, not occupying the town. We have 11 infantrymen supported by two APCs and some mortars, which is probably not enough to safely take the hotel area. That GL team would have made a big difference in our ability to clear the houses, but we chose to focus on anti-armor weapons and we should play to our strength.

    That’s actually good news though, because if we take the town we’ll be sitting ducks for a couple of 115mm shells fired from the road well outside our range. And displacing from the town would be challenging to say the least, as it’s hard to break sightlines from the road. Basically the town is a trap. Let’s use our mortars and MGs to keep their troops in place and away from our AT weapons. We should try to suppress them when our tank team advances though.

    I really like the position of our Dragon team and our LAWs right now, but I’m really nervous about moving the BRDM. My concern isn’t so much getting to a new position as getting out of it. If it spots a tank and needs to bail, where does it go? Back across the open field? Plus, an airborne RPG has something like a 250m range against a stationary target, so if we can hit them they can hit us. So hitting the hotel seems dangerous unless we already have them suppressed by mortars or somesuch. @g948ng and @cederic, can I get your thoughts on that?

    Note: I’ve been reading The Other Side of the Mountain by Grau & Jalali, about Afghan war tactics against the Soviets, and I’m trying to apply a few lessons from there. Historically the Mjuahideen did well when they ambushed convoys and pinned down nearby reinforcements, and then fell back. They got into real trouble whenever they tried to hold ground against a larger/stronger force. We would do well to do the same.

    • I’m less concerned about holding the village, and far more about the distraction and damage the Pod forces there will cause if we don’t suppress them before the convoy arrives – without freedom to deploy our teams as we need (and bring that T72 into action) our actions against the convoy will not be focused or as fully effective as I’d like.

      On the BDRM movements specifically you raise valid points. I’ve assumed the trees block line of sight to the highway but if that’s not true it would indeed be a sitting duck if positioned as previously suggested. Its vulnerability to an RPG from the hotel remains either way, but if it’s supporting suppression of the hotel forces rather than solely trying to suppress them, that may be a risk we need to incur. The alternative would be constantly trying to position the BDRM such that it could never be shot at by enemy infantry; that kind of negates its ability to shoot back and to influence the outcome of this situation.

      It’s entirely possible though that my risk appetite is unwisely high and unduly influenced by my lack of patience and desire for a decisive outcome, so your thoughts provide constructive challenge that will strengthen our decision making. Thank you 🙂

      • I re-checked the turn 0 screenshots and I am pretty confident the trees east of the field (90 to 115) block LOS. Box 102 should be shielded from the highway.
        Of course, Oneknown´s point about how the BRDM could get back is still valid. I wouldn´t want to remain in 102 when the convoy arrives. But we got about 10 turns until then. I think/hope/gamble that is enough to surpress the hotel and retreat west.

    • In fact I don´t think we disagree very much, Oneknown. Moving the majority of our forces into the town and planning on fighting the convoy from there would be a mistake.

      Our mission objective will move from east to west somewhere close to turn 15. The village, if you zoom the map out all the way, is basically a clump of LOS and movement impeding terrain with some depth, but mostly going from north to south. (New Farm to dovecot)
      Since we have the inferior force, we must use that LOS blocking terrain, so that we only fight a small part of the enemy´s force at a time. In principle that means staying west of the village.

      But there are several factors which still mandate not to leave the village in enemy hands. Positive reasons are freedom of movement in the west. Unobserved, ideally. a) Otherwise we cannot set up an ambush unimpeded. Especially short range assets. (LAWs) b) We also want to fetch that T-72 (with a rather fragile Mutt) and get it back into position c) The forces already present must not be allowed to remain active until the convoy arrives so we can maintain constant local superiority and then d) there is another asset to be gained in the eastern part of the village. (RPG team)
      Negative reasons: e) The plethora (~30) of targets means the ambush won´t be over quickly. If we fire missiles in sight of hostile infantry, there is a good chance they will kill or surpress our ambushers after the first volley. f) if we do not have eyes in the village we might get surprised by convoy vehicles not taking the obvious path. Especially if the dovecot attracted attention. Which ties into g) last-minute reshuffling probably cannot rely on sneaking along the map-edge.

      Basically, what I am saying is, we do not have to `hold` the village, but I think we must deny it to the enemy. Keeping a small recon team there when the convoy arrives would be a plus.
      Getting this done in time and without loosing anything important will be the challenge. My biggest worry is the missing PT-76.

    • Fair points. We are very short of infantry power and I’m certainly regretting being so cavalier with recon charlie last turn. That said, I do disagree with your conclusion – I think we lack the firepower (and map space) to execute an ambush in the west while simultaneously pinning down a counter-attack from the village (side note – anyone got a rough idea how long our MG team will be able to fire before they run dry?). We have a chance to whittle down the opposition and expand our forces before the convoy arrives, and I think we should give it a go. Plus, Tim designed such a lovely trap it would feel rude not to at least poke a stick at it…

      I do think we should be more aggressive with our mortars. While avoiding building damage is one of our win conditions, stopping the armour column is still the main one. Given our shortages, I am ok with putting some holes in some roofs.

    • This is a great discussion, and I don’t have much to add to the points already listed.

      I just wanted to say I really enjoyed “The Other Side of the Mountain”, and its Soviet-perspective counterpart “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”. It’s pretty striking how both books might represent the same ambush very differently, which was a good reminder that BOTH the Mujahideen and local Soviet commanders had strong reasons to distort the reported outcomes of engagements.

  8. I would like to get either Trajanov or the snipers off the dovecot, having both up there seems redundant.
    My first thought would be to get Trajanov off so he can go look for the missing resistance fighters or aid in clearing the village.
    We could also try to sneak around with the sniper team and see if we can pick off some enemies.

    • Petar’s house is at 77 3x3y which is going to be tricky to reach with enemy infantry in the rest of the village.
      It would take a while, but we could send either the Major or the sniper team round the long way (roughly east to 114, then N to 78), this should also give us a good view of what’s coming along the highway from the east. The only trouble is that it’s the best part of a kilometer, and the only vehicle free that we could use is the truck (box 96) and that would probably be more of a liability than an asset.
      That said, just having a unit in the woods/bushes to the east (box102, 90 etc) should give us some useful information on what’s on the highway (there was *something* driving around up there a few turns ago, and we still have no idea where the PT-76 is).

    • Additionally, if the sniper opens fire while Trajanov is up there, we’ll have put a target right on our CO’s head. The dovecote is also one of the more obvious places to put the mortar spotters once they arrive. I’d be in favour of getting Trajanov down, leaving the sniper team there while we contest the village, then swapping them out for the mortar spotters in advance of the armour column’s arrival.

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